We’ve heard it repeatedly, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking has become one of the most talked about terms (and perhaps overused) when it comes to career growth and business success. However, the effectiveness of this topic necessitates its continued emphasis. But what is it really? It surprised me when the first synonym that Microsoft Word and the thesaurus suggested was “schmoozing.”
Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” Illustrating the importance of career networking, this dictionary also includes a quote from Hal Lancaster, “Networking remains the No. 1 cause of job attainment.”
It may be top-of-mind in the job search process, as a principal connector for candidates and employers, but networking is imperative for overall career and personal growth too. Furthermore, if a company wants to persevere and prosper, their employees need to continue to grow as well. Professional development and networking often occur simultaneously. It’s all about making contacts, meeting people and exchanging ideas.
Agricultural employers report that employee referrals and networks are their top methods for reaching prospective applicants, with networking being essential in building this pipeline. The majority (72%) of ag employers also use social networks to support their recruitment efforts, with Facebook as the most popular medium.
Online networking is enticing because it is easily conducted from the confines of your home or office; you can hide behind your profile pic and not worry about those awkward sweaty handshakes. Following and interacting with companies of interest on social media sites, connecting with colleagues and customers on LinkedIn, building an online portfolio or resume, and utilizing online resume databases are all important networking avenues on the web. However, relying solely on the internet for networking means missing numerous opportunities.
Attending in-person events allows participants to practice “schmoozing” and hone soft skills that are required for on-the-job success. For employees in recruiting, marketing, public relations, sales, or leadership, making contacts is an integral part of their position. Many employers offer and encourage opportunities to meet others. In fact, agricultural employers use training and development as one of their top methods to motivate employees.
Continuing education classes, association and committee meetings, alumni organizations, ag advocacy groups, volunteer activities and career fairs are just some of the ways to network, while enhancing communication and presentation skills, professionalism, and continuing down the path of life-long learning.
You may also find local clubs or meetups where people in alike professions share ideas, host speakers, and learn from each other. Employers are often supportive of their employees’ participation in low-cost, educational events that can enhance their on-the-job knowledge and performance.
So…are you networking or schmoozing? Chances are it may be both, but ultimately, you’ll undoubtedly find it beneficial to your career!
Start schmoozing with top agricultural employers; add your resume to the AgCareers.com database!